“Lawrence Ferlinghetti Is Alive!” by Emily Sernaker

Emily Sernaker


I say, to a man in the drug store
check-out line not completely
out of nowhere. He’s wearing
a black and white City Lights shirt
with Lawrence’s handwriting.
Do you know Ferlinghetti? I ask
thinking of that baseball canto
poem: how does it start? Watching
baseball, eating popcorn, sitting
in the sun, reading Ezra Pound …
Yes I do! Is he still alive?
And what a gift that I get to
say the good news.
An old man is alive
in San Francisco, with all of its
pop-ups and start-ups
there is still poetry. The breeze
of the bay is tipping his black
fisherman’s hat forward. A man
who telegrammed
Ginsberg asking: When
do I get the manuscript?
A man who went to trial,
gets small voices printed
even still. Not just
poems, not just paintings,
not just space. Listen.
An old man who lives
in a little apartment
is taking his daily
walk where birds break
at the crest of the park.
Dogs run off their leashes.
The sun won’t go down
for hours. I swear to God
there are good ways
to live this life.

Poets Respond
March 23, 2017

[download audio]


Emily Sernaker: “Lawrence Ferlinghetti is celebrating his 98th birthday this Friday. I’m a fan.”

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